Research Tips & Tricks

Which Types of Information Sources Do I Need?

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Magazines and Newspapers

"" For general interest and news articles.

Academic? Trade? Popular? What’s the Difference?

Trade, Industry, and Professional Publications

"" For industry news, trends, and forecasts, search EBSCOhost databases (?)

Reference Sources

Specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and other reference sources are great sources for discipline-specific definitions and background information on a topic or issue.

How Do I Read a Scholarly Journal Article?

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Academic (Peer-Review) Journals”

"" Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles for expert analysis and original research reports.


"" Search for books in hard copy and ebook format for broad and in-depth examinations of a topic. FC Library Resources:

Request an Interlibrary Loan at the reference desk for books at other libraries:

Free online books:

Books at FC Library

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What Is a Primary Source?


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Specialized Search Engines ""



A Little Library Humor

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How Many Search Terms Should I Use?

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What Search Terms Should I Use?

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How Do I Narrow Keyword Searches?

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General Database Search Tips

magnifying glassGeneral Guideline: Use 2-4 search terms that describe the source you need.

Add Keywords Narrow the focus of your results by adding additional keywords.

Replace Keywords Broaden your results by replacing search terms with similar, related, broader, or narrower terms.

Broaden Results by expanding search to All Text

Narrow Results by limiting search to just the article titles, subjects, or abstracts.

Limit Results by date, subject, source type, and other characteristics.

Using AND, OR, NOT Connectors

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Web Search Strategies

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How Do I Evaluate Web Search Result?

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How to Know If a Source Is Reliable

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Evaluating Sources

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Does the Web page you found ROCC?

Use the criteria Reliability Objective Creator Currency to evaluate the sources you find on the Web.
Evaluating Websites [PDF]



The site is well written without spelling or grammatical errors. The document’s content is comprehensive and the facts stated agree with the other information you have found. There is a bibliography of reputable sources.

Is the information on this site balanced or biased? >>  The Occidental Quarterly

How in-depth is the information on this page? >> Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions

Would you find a more in-depth examination of the topic on this page  or consulting the research studies referenced in this science brief?

  • Evaluate the content and compare it with other sources
  • If the source is a summary, review, news or other brief on a research study, book, or other source, consult and use that source in your paper.
  • Does the author reference outside sources with citations or links or give unsubstantiated opinion?
  • Look for emotional or inflammatory language, i.e. “Everyone must stop this now!!!!”
  • Does the author acknowledge other viewpoints?
  • Are different viewpoints fairly presented?


The document’s purpose is clearly stated.  Arguments and assumptions are logical and well-supported. The presentation of the material is objective and any bias plainly stated. Other viewpoints are acknowledged. The language is not emotionally charged.

Does this organization have a reason to try to convince readers of its point of view?

  • Read through the document. Why was this document written?
  • Is the purpose clearly stated or presented?
  • Does the author or organization have a particular reason to try to convince the reader of its point of view?


An authoritative source lists the author’s name along with his or her credentials and background. An organization affiliated with the site is reputable.  Contact information, such as address, phone number or email address, is given for the author or organization. The site is well designed and easy to navigate.

Is the creator of this site an authority on the topic? >> The Origin of AIDS

Check the “About Us” page on this site: The Institute for Historical Review
Now Google the  sponsoring organization. What do others have to say about the IHR?

  • Look for the name of the author or sponsoring organization. It may be necessary to scroll through the entire document looking for a clue. The author’s name or sponsoring organization are very often at the end of the document. There may be a link to this information, such as one that says “About Us.”
  • If little or no information is given, check any links that say “Home,” or “Back” or “Main page” to see if you can follow a trail to a responsible party.
  • Look at the web site’s URL or Internet address, to try and determine the author’s affiliation.  Delete the URL down to the basic domain (.edu, .org, .gov, .com, etc.) to bring you to the main site. What is the educational institution, organization, government department or agency, or company? URL’s with a ~ in them often indicate a personal site. Education sites (.edu) often allow students to post their papers or projects to the web, so look at the entire URL carefully.
  • Other information about the author or organization might be found by searching magazine or newspaper databases, such as EBSCOhost for more information about, or articles by, your author. Or try a web search engine for other pages by that author. A print source, such as Who’s Who in America, can also be helpful. Ask your librarian for assistance if necessary.


There should be a date and it should indicate what the date actually means, i.e.  is it the date the information was originally written, first posted to the web, or last revised. The links should be current.

Is this source current enough for the topic? >>ReCAPP

  • Look for the date the document was first written or published, the date the information was placed on the Web, or the date the document or Web page was last revised. Is the publication date suitable for your needs?
  • Are the links current, or are there many dead links?

MLA Citation Resources

Works Cited Help From the MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association

OWL at Purdue

NoodleBib (FCL subscription) Generate, edit, and import a Works Cited page into Word.

MLA Handbook, 8th ed. Call number: LB2369 .G53 2016

MLA Handbook for Writers , 7th ed.

Call number: LB2369 .G53 2009

APA Citation Resources

OWL at Purdue

NoodleBib (FCL subscription) Generate, edit, and import a Works Cited page into Word.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Call number: BF76.7 .P83 2010

Using Citation Makers

Free Online Citation Makers: Son of Citation Machine BibMe EasyBib